If you're wondering which is the "best" way to hoop up your embroidery while you're working, here's a quick guide of what I use along with where to find them.
First, there's no "right" way to hoop up your work. You need to find a method that works for you and that method might change depending on several factors, such as:
Where you are--sitting in your favorite comfy chair or in a crowded airline seat?
How many hours you're going to stitch--a few minutes or a few hours?
What's your budget--hoops are cheapest, but when is the right time to invest in a workstand?
Here are the hooping methods I use with their pros and cons:
Hardwood hoop--one of my favorite ways to stitch is the good 'ol 6" size hardwood hoop. I love how it feels in my hand and it's easy to quickly switch to a different section of the fabric. Great for your budget and great for stitching on the go--I never travel without mine. Very low-tech, but absolutely gets the job done! If I stitched 20-30 min/day, I'd only use a hardwood hoop. But, if you're going to stitch several hours a day, I'd recommend QSnaps and a Lowery workstand (below). You can buy a hardwood hoop for $8 on the Avlea website.
QSnap--while I'm not a huge plastic lover, QSnaps are great for using with a workstand. QSnaps are plastic tubes that come with corner connectors and then another piece of plastic that "snaps" onto the plastic tube to hold your work in place. I love that they have interchangeable sizes, so you can take an 8x8" set and a 12x12" set, mix them up and have an 8x12" frame perfect for working larger designs, band samplers, etc. And, while I know I'm probably not supposed to, I do leave my work in the Qsnap overnight since I'm typically re-hooping at some point of my daily stitching session. They're not pretty, but they are practical, and I especially like the really great fabric tension you get with a QSnap--it makes it super easy to see the threads. QSnaps are available at Amazon.
Workstand--when I developed trigger finger, I needed to put less strain on my hands without giving up stitching, so it was time to get a workstand. Workstands come in several styles--lap stands sit in your lap, workstands sit next to your chair, table stands sit on a table. After trying several styles of both lap and table stands and not loving any of them, I decided to go with the Cadillac of embroidery stands, the Lowery workstand. Lowery workstands are definitely not cheap (about $200), but they are worth absolutely every penny and I cannot recommend them highly enough if you're ready for a workstand. They are fabulous quality--my dad was a machinist and I can tell how well these are made--and they can hold either a hardwood hoop or a Qsnap, so they're really versatile. I use mine daily and love it! (True confession: my husband just made me buy a second one so I'm not lugging it back and forth around the house!) I can easily switch the stand to either my left or right side to switch stitching hands if one hand is getting fatigued. And, since the stand firmly holds my work, I can easily do two-handed stitching (pushing the needle up from the bottom of the work with the right hand and grabbing the needle from the top of the work with the left hand, or vice versa) which also prevents hand fatigue. I've had a lot of hand issues (and, I mean a lot: 5 episodes of trigger finger, 1 bone contusion, 9 cortisone injections, and 1 surgery) and my Lowery workstand has allowed me to continue experiencing the joy of stitching no matter what state my hands were in on any given day. Lowery workstands are available www.workstands.com